Ring it up: Byredo Bal D’Afrique

Dear Scent Diary,

I try never to buy perfume on first sniff. First of all, it’s impossible to get a sense of how it wears on your skin during the course of a day. Will it last? Will it change? If it does, in an interesting way or in a way you’d rather it didn’t? And then there are the less quantifiable reasons – will I get bored with it or decide in a week that the gorgeous elixir in the store is actually unwearable in my daily life.

DSC03426The key word in the first sentence above of course is ‘try’. My perfume hobby is useless to me if it isn’t entertaining and enjoyable and sometimes illogical and impractical. And so on my recent trip to Seattle, when I fell in love with Byredo’s Bal D’Afrique at Barney’s, I happily committed the first sniff purchase sin.

DSC03429The initial whiff reeled me in: a slightly musky, juicy citrus note – a blend of bergamot, vetiver and orange blossom gives the impression of sweet juicy orange (I gather since orange isn’t listed as an official note on their website). At this point early on, there are similarities to Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal’s opening blast. As it develops though, they diverge down different paths – Vetiver Fatal towards a dry green woodiness, and Bal d’Afrique towards a musky, cedar-y, yet still juicy dry-down.

DSC03430Overall, Bal D’Afrique is light, juicy to the end, extremely well-blended, lasts and is downright gorge-licious. And how does it fare on all the caution points I listed above? Pretty damn well. It does last (10 or more hours on me with liberal application), it does change to a take on a musky, woody character but retains the sweet juiciness that grabbed me originally, and it does keep my interest.

One of the most telling perfume occasions is when you’re going to be meeting someone for the first time and you’d like to make a favourable impression. Which scent do you choose? Sure it depends on the type of person you’re meeting and how they fit into your life (is it your mother-in-law or a new business associate?). But regardless, this kind of stress test for my perfume collection often produces some very useful information.

DSC03425On two such occasions (a dinner party and a new client meeting) I reached for Bal D’Afrique. Granted, it has the shine of a new love, but the boxes it checked for me are what was telling – it’s what I chose to give a breezy, appealing, carefree, and happy impression at the dinner party and a ‘not trying too hard’ impression at the client meeting. Huh.

As far as new acquisitions go, I’d call it a great success.


9 responses to “Ring it up: Byredo Bal D’Afrique

  1. Das

    I read this post at a furious pace, hoping it was a happy ending. I’m soooo happy it was!!! Whew, it’s also a relief. I didn’t want to have played a part in something you hated after you got home.

    I agree that BdA is versatile, supremely wearable, and interesting. You’re not going to sound the alarm for those poor souls who are “allergic” to perfume AND you’re not going to smell like anyone else. It’s happy, pretty and, I think, refreshing. (And that magnetic cap is one nice touch amongst others in the packaging :-))

    Sigh. I love it when impulse buys work out. Do you think they’re more likely to as your nose matures? I remember several duds early in my perfumista blossoming, but seems like fewer lately. Or maybe it’s that there’s less room for full bottles now, so I’m not as impulsive. Probably a combination.

    • Hi Das,
      I love it so no need to worry – and I agree, the magnetic cap is pretty sweet.

      I’m not sure if impulse buy success rates go up with experience or not. There’s still no real way of knowing how long it will last (luckily I had you to vouch for Bd’A), but you do know your tastes better and can gauge the level of ‘risk’ more easily. For instance, I don’t know if I would buy a bold statement fragrance on impulse because that would be high risk (of low milage) for me. I’d need to stake something like that out for a while. Bd’A was pretty low risk because the notes are right up my alley, it’s light and easily wearable anywhere and I had someone I trusted telling me it lasts. So, boom. 🙂

  2. There is one more great aspect to this bottle purchase: you’ll enjoy remembering in years to come that you bought it on your trip, brought it back – and it was a success. I love reading success stories! 🙂

    I’ll test it again tonight – just to refresh my thoughts on the perfume and I wanted to run it side-by-side with SL’s Jeux de Peau of which I thought while testing Bal D’Afrique (they might have nothing in common but it was my first thought – so I want to check it).

    • Hi Undina,
      You’ve inspired me to do the same – though I find more similarities in Lumiere Blanche with Jeux de Peau. That warm milkiness, mmmm. I find Bal D’Afrique brighter and sweeter. Though as they dry down they start moving toward each other. JdP gets sweeter and BdA gets muskier. Still different to my nose though. That was fun, thanks!

      • Actually Undina, these two seem to go well together. I know you just did a post on how you don’t layer fragrances much anymore but you may have hit upon a nice combo…

      • I haven’t tried Lumiere Blanche so cannot commenton that but I’m testing now BdA on one wrist and JdP on the other: while I don’t think they are identical, they are so much alike (for my nose) that I do not see myself owning them both. But when my JdP decant is gone I might go for BdA.

      • Das

        I read your comments about BdA and JdP when I was traveling and said “What? Huh? Similar? No way.” To me, JdP has such a strong buttery(?) note, it’s so gourmand, I couldn’t see how it was at all similar to the orange and vetiver freshness of BdA. Once home, I did the same test, one spray of each on each wrist. I was surprised to find myself agreeing that they are structured similarly, and feel even more similar after a couple of hours, but my stubborn nose says the main events -so to speak- are completely different. Always fascinating and enlightening to hear differing opinions.

  3. I’ve been to the Seattle Barneys. They were very helpful and were generous enough to give me a whole bag of samples. I somehow managed to make it out of there without buying anything. I don’t know how I did it!

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